Takeover may shift power to Bay Area

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’Currently, Southern California Republicans hold the following positions: Rep. David Dreier, R-Glendora, leads the House Rules Committee, the panel through which every bill passes before it can get a full House vote. He essentially helps decide what legislation and amendments see the light of day, and which wither in obscurity. Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, leads the House Appropriations Committee, directing the allocation of all federal spending. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon leads the Education and Workforce Committee, authorizing all higher- and lower-education spending as well as poverty programs. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, directing all U.S. defense activities. With widespread predictions that Democrats will take over the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s elections, state observers say California will likely undergo its own powerbase shift: from the Southland to the Bay Area. Starting with Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, who would become Speaker of the House under Democrats, Northern California lawmakers would be in line for several of the top committee and leadership positions. Meanwhile, Southland Republicans who currently wield some of the highest positions of power in the GOP-controlled Congress would instantly fall from power – and lose much of their ability to secure contracts, earmarks and other federal funding for the area. “If Republicans lose control of the House, Southern California loses the chairs of very significant committees,” political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe said. Retiring Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Bakersfield, heads the Ways and Means Committee, through which he controls Medicare, Social Security and all federal taxation. “The Republican House delegation has enormous clout and were able to do things for California because of all these committee chairmanships,” Southern California Republican political consultant and analyst Allan Hoffenblum said. “Once they’re in the minority, they’re not going to be chairmen of any committees, they’re going to lose their staff and fancy offices. There’s nobody lower than a member of the minority in the House of Representatives,” he said. Meanwhile, in addition to Pelosi’s ascension, Rep. George Miller, D-Vallejo, would likely take control of the House Resources Committee, directing all federal land and water policy. The House foreign relations panel also would be led by a Bay Area lawmaker, Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo. Fortney F. “Pete” Stark, D-Fremont, would be the second-highest ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee, likely overseeing any proposed changes to the Medicare Program. And Rep. Mike Thompson, whose district spans the Napa area and who is one of the top Democratic fundraisers in the House, also is expected to assume a key post. “The Bay Area delegation could definitely become the most powerful delegation, not just in the state but in the House,” Jeffe said. That doesn’t mean the Southland will be bereft of all power. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, would take over the chairmanship of House Government Reform Committee, assuming the power to issue subpoenas and launch investigations. Already a nationally known figure, Waxman would become the Southland’s most powerful lawmaker. Waxman, who is expected to easily win re-election Tuesday, said he would focus on uncovering waste and fraud in government contracting; examining allegations of war profiteering; and move quickly for lobbying reform of the executive branch. Another possible Southland leader could be Rep. Jane Harman, D-El Segundo. Currently Harman is the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Locked in an inter-party struggle with Pelosi, however, it remains unclear whether she would ascend to chair under a Democratic house. Rep. Howard Berman, D-Van Nuys, who is serving his 12th term and also is expected to win re-election, declined to speculate on what position he would hold under a Democrat-controlled House. “I made a decision a few months ago that I’m not going to contemplate or map or strategize,” in the event of a Democrat takeover, he said. But analysts noted that Berman, a leading figure on both the International Relations Committee and the Judiciary Committee, would likely lead a subcommittee on intellectual property issues that directly affect Southern California’s entertainment industry. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, meanwhile, said he would likely assume chairmanship of the foreign relations panel focusing on international terrorism. And in the San Gabriel Valley, Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Santa Fe Springs, would take over a Resources subcommittee overseeing water issues where she said she intends to push through a recycling bill. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, commands a position on the House Appropriations panel and would accumulate more clout, and Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, already is gunning for a top party leadership slot. Meanwhile, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, has been making a name for himself in the minority with a command of national security and nuclear nonproliferation issues. Still, some Republicans said the Southland will lose out in a Democrat-controlled Congress. Jo Maney, a spokeswoman for Dreier, specifically accused Democrats of opposing reimbursements to California for the costs of incarcerating undocumented immigrants charged with crimes. She cited a Dreier amendment in 2005 beefing up funding for the program that was opposed by 12 California Democrats, almost all from the Bay Area. Democrats, meanwhile, claimed that the region would be better off despite a concentration of powerful Bay Area lawmakers. Many pointed out that Dreier and other Southland Republicans were unable to secure promised funding for the Alameda Corridor East rail project in a transportation bill last year despite their clout, largely because Thomas directed millions of dollars to his own Kern County district. Berman also noted that funding for the 405 Freeway in that same measure was granted by Minnesota Democrat James Oberstar, who would be expected to lead the House Transportation Committee. “It’s almost too simple to say the California delegation depends on how many chairmen we have,” Berman said. Waxman, meanwhile, said he thinks the Southland will flourish under a Pelosi leadership and mass committee control by Bay Area lawmakers. “I think of them as Californians, I don’t think of them as Northern Californians,” he said. Analysts, meanwhile, said it’s too soon to tell how the switch – if it happens – would affect the region. “Nancy Pelosi can’t just hand power over to the California delegation,” said Bruce Cain, director of the University of California’s Washington Center. Presiding over a famously fractious caucus, Cain noted, “She’s got to really govern in a way that brings in all the factions of the party.” Waxman may rule 405 funding [email protected] (202) 662-8731 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more